Friday, 26 October 2012

Manchester City: The season so far

Edin's form is sending chills through defenders across the country.

By Aaron Leggott

After Saturday's win at the Hawthorns, City are sitting pretty in third place after eight games played, but it hasn't been as simple as it looks on paper.

Despite an unbeaten start to the season, there have been many occasions where that record has looked under threat. Performances at Anfield and Craven Cottage pop into mind, where late goals from Carlos Tevez and Edin Dzeko helped prevent any blushes on Roberto Mancini's part.

G'Edin there! Dzeko's late goals have won City vital points already this season
Photo: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images Europe

And some out of sort Champions League performances has meant that, barring a miracle, City are facing an early exit from the elite competition.

If I was to describe the start to this season, it would be a mixed bag of performances. At times, we have looked unstoppable (Sunderland at the Etihad Stadium comes to mind, in particular), whilst at points we have looked to have been suffering from a title winning hangover.

After the way we won the league last season, it doesn't surprise me in the slightest, but Mancini and his backroom staff have fortunately started to steer the players away from that mindset in recent weeks, and it is paying off. 

I think it is also helping that we are starting to see a more established starting eleven unlike in the opening stages of the season, where Mancini seemed to be encouraging experimentation in a fixed and stabalised title winning side. 

His decisions certainly were raising a few eyebrows in the terraces, and perhaps another one is his insistence to pick Mario Balotelli ahead of a certain Bosnian poacher.

After his 10 minute brace against West Brom at the weekend, Dzeko has now scored six goals already this season, and he is looking to be a highly dangerous impact player.

He is sure to be giving Mancini some headaches with his team selection, but based on recent performances, it is hard to argue that Dzeko isn't an impact player.

His winner against Fulham a few weeks ago saw the Bosnian rewarded with a start against German champions Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League, but his failure to deliver perhaps frustrated Mancini, as the Italian decided to give Mario the starting place against Sunderland and West Brom.

Dzeko got his reward for his recent fine form on Wednesday night against Ajax, but there were similarities to his Dortmund performance, as he looked lacklustre and failed deliver despite being gifted with two glorious chances.

Ajax was a worrying game to watch. I think the last time we played that badly was Mark Hughes' last away game for us, at White Hart Lane. I have spoken with a number of City fans since Wednesday night and all agree that we haven't seen a performance like that in a long time.

The team were lacking any fight, passion or belief, something which has been a constant in Mancini's teams ever since he joined the club three years ago.

I think it only adds to the worry amongst fans at our stop-start form this season, as mentioned earlier. We predicted that Dzeko would start against Ajax thanks to his form, but does he deserve to start tomorrow against Swansea?

I think we need pace, power and trickery and for that reason I would go with the Argentinian duo of Tevez and Aguero. It is a surprise that these two have hardly started together this season, baring in mind the partnership they created towards the end of last season, which arguably won us the league.

Without being disrespectful, we should really be going away from games like tomorrow with three points. Our team is much stronger than Swansea's, but we need to see more steel in the back line and aim for a clean sheet, whilst also seeing the benefits going forward.

A bad night in Amsterdam...
Photo: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images Europe
Defensively, there is still a lot to work on. Vincent Kompany, who was a rock at the heart of the Premier League's best defence last season, has looked shaky in these past couple of months, and the constant rotation of his partner has not helped matters.

Joleon Lescott, who was ever present last season in City's back line, has seen his position taken up by Matija Nastasic, a young centre back from Serbia on a number of occasions and we need to see some continuity in terms of Mancini's team selection.

With some key games coming up before Christmas and New Year, I believe these next six weeks are vital and in all honesty, we can't be dropping many points if we want to be challenging on all fronts come the end of the season.

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(c) The Sky Blue View 2012

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